We all know how much richer our lives are WITH pets. Can you imagine being separated from your companion while going through a domestic violence situation? There ARE solutions to get safe WITH a pet. Here’s what to know about pets and domestic violence:
During domestic violence awareness month, we are reminded that 48% of victims delay leaving because they aren’t sure where to go safely WITH a pet.
This was my own story, as shared on my about page. I DID leave, with my son and cat Jake (aka Greyboy, pictured below in the cat portrait etching I created of him). It is because I believe pets are therapy that I love helping you remember, through art, that special source of unconditional love years after he or she is gone.
Here are some stats to help us understand the need, solutions and resources to help pets and their people get safe and stay safe.
- 1 in every 3 women / 1 in every 4 men experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetimes, which means every one knows someone in this situation
- 48% of victims delay leaving due to having a pet and being afraid to leave them behind
- Currently only 15% of domestic violence shelters accept pets
WHAT DOES DV LOOK LIKE
Abuse comes in many forms, not just physical abuse:
- Financial abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Emotional abuse
- And many more
We’ve heard some of this, but what does abuse actually look like?
TheMendProject.com is the best resource I have found for clarity on what abuse actually looks like in real life, such as:
- Gaslighting (altering or denying a shared reality)
- Power play (make the victim feel powerless)
- Cover up
- And Many More Destructive Behaviors
Abuse doesn’t discriminate. It occurs across all socioeconomic levels, all genders, all communities, etc.
Many times abusers begin with harming animals and move to humans. An abuser may use a pet as leverage, since an abuser wants power and control.
Because pets are ESPECIALLY a source of comfort and safety, love and companionship for victims of domestic violence, it’s important to help keep them together. Pets can help calm the nerves, reduce stress and provide emotional support.
Victims should not have to choose between their pet and staying in the home. Luckily, there are some wonderful non-profits like RedRover.org that provide three solutions to keep pets and their people together:
Safe Escape Grants
Grants cover the cost of pet boarding and vet care while survivors receive services in domestic violence shelters.
Safe Housing Grants
Grants help domestic violence shelters either build pet-friendly spaces onsite to co-shelter survivors and pets, OR work with partners in the community to offer other pet housing options.
Safe Place For Pets
We all know that we heal best with our companions by our side! They have now made sure, with the help of Purina and donors, that over the past few years, at least 15% of DV shelters allow pets.
This website is a directory of pet-friendly domestic violence shelters in the U.S. and Canada, as well as organizations that can look after the pets of domestic violence survivors when pets cannot stay at the domestic violence shelter. Search by zip code, city, state, or province.
HOW TO HELP SOMEONE BEING ABUSED
How do you help someone who is experiencing abuse? Honestly, sometimes they cannot see they are being abused and other times they are too afraid to leave.
It’s a good idea to let the experts help with a safety plan (see resources below). It’s helpful to the victim if you:
- Listen without judgement
- Mirror back their words
- Encourage them
- Ask how you help by offering specifics, such as, “Can I drop by dinner tonight?”
PRACTICAL WAYS TO HELP IF IT’S SAFE TO DO SO:
– Provide a meal
– Give them a gift card
– Treat them to coffee
– Provide a handyman’s help
– Mow the grass
Link to report animal abuse in your area
DV Hotline and text “start” to 88788
The Mend Project
Dr. Jill Murray
Laura’s House (Note most local shelters have resources even for those not housed at their shelter.)
We celebrate all survivors and those who are on their way to becoming more empowered and safe!
If you or someone you know are considering leaving an abusive relationship, it is important to gain expert help that can assist with this decision-making process and a safety plan for your AND your pet. Please speak to a professional listed at the resources above about options and legal rights, even pertaining to pets.
PURCHASE OR DONATE
A portion of all pet portrait commissions from your photo with Greyboy Pet Prints in October will be donated back to Red Rover, specifically to help DV victims and survivors. If you’d like to donate directly to Red Rover, you may do so at their link above. Thank you for reading and for caring about pets like I do!
Here is a small pet portrait etching created of “Choco,” one of the pets that Red Rover has helped. I received a photo of him, etched it to a metal plate, inked it and ran it through my Grammy’s printing press to create something very special to enjoy their favorite furry face!
After all, it’s our companions that provide that unconditional love we all so appreciate in any circumstance!